Preserving Our Serial Set in Hard Copy When We Have It Online

For over 30 years, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock's Ottenheimer Library built up an extensive collection of Serial Set volumes, including over 50 that are believed to be part of an original sheepskin set. The most recent 20 years were received in fiche for space reasons. In 2007, multiple events on campus, and the arrival of a new library dean, led me to explore the purchase of the online full-text product. (We eventually selected the package now managed by ProQuest.) A variety of departmental and personal contributions, as well as a cooperative purchasing agreement with the UALR William H. Bowen School of Law Library, the Sequoyah National Research Center (Native American Studies), and the Central Arkansas Library System, presented us with a very large duplication issue that lead to administrative pressure to discard the hard copy.

I dreaded the thought of discarding the historic volumes, despite the red stains on my skin each time I touched the earliest ones. While our regional, the Arkansas State Library, was unable to take the hard copy, they defended the need to maintain its existence in Central Arkansas. The sheepskin volumes were only a part of that concern. As the capital city, with a growing number of research facilities, there is a patron-driven desire for the original documents to be preserved at libraries around Little Rock. It did not take long for Dr. Daniel F. Littlefield, Director of the Sequoyah National Research Center (SNRC) to propose that it take possession of the Serial Set under a Cooperative Holding Agreement.

At the moment, the SNRC does not have room for the entire set, but they will be taking possession of the two cabinets of fiche in the next 30-60 days. Unloading, moving, and reloading fiche cabinets is going to be the easy part compared to writing this Agreement. I spoke with several people at GPO only to find that they did not have any agreements that addressed preservation specifically. Cooperative agreements are usually designed to allow a depository collection to be split among more than one library/location based on the subject matter or transfer of depository status from one institution to another. UALR is looking to move our set out of the library to preserve it. We are not looking to make its new location a place for quick and easy access to the materials.

The SNRC is not expecting to use the hard copy. They are probably the biggest user, and largest contributor to the purchase of the online version. They want to preserve the hard copy because of the vast amount of information on Native American tribes and their interactions with the United States government, and their love of primary source materials in hard copy. They are raising funds for a new building designed specifically for archival storage of tribal donations and its founding collection from the American Native Press.

The agreement under construction will allow them to move the fiche cabinets into storage in their facility. In the event that a patron needs the fiche, the SNRC will provide access with 48 hours advance notice, not counting weekends and university holidays. At the same time, the W. H Bowen School of Law Library is going to transfer the CIS US Serial Set Index to the SNRC under an additional agreement.

Until the new facility is constructed, the hard cover volumes will remain in the compact shelving of cold room at Ottenheimer Library. Like the fiche, access will only be available with 48 hours advance notice, and consultation with me.

Note: Later this year I will write an additional piece for FDLP Connection on how these four institutions were able to come together and purchase the LexisNexis US Serial Set, under one contract, in 2007.

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